How to support a small business with Jennifer Butler of Platinum Virtual Assistant
Welcome to the third in this blog series where we answer the question ‘How to support a small business’. In it I interview freelance, female business experts who share my desire to support you, if you:
- run or work in a small business
- feel overwhelmed by the amount of admin
- wish you had more time to focus on the bigger picture as well as supporting your team
- are on the lookout for advice in areas which you don’t have in-house or at the level of expertise that’s required.
I’d love to continue providing useful content so please feel free to let me know (in one word or short sentence as I know you’re short on time) what you wish you:
- had more time to do
- didn’t find quite so challenging
- knew more about
- could read about in a useful blog.
Jennifer Butler of Platinum Virtual Assistant, answers the question ‘how to support a small business’ as a freelance, female business expert who is an independent PA/Administrator (Virtual Assistant)
Jennifer and I go back a long time, meeting at upper school. I think it’s safe to say we were the organisers in our group. Being creative people as well, we spent many happy hours hanging out in the art studios and studying fashion and textiles together too. It’s been brilliant to see our careers develop since our time at school, particularly our decisions to take charge of our work/life balance and become fantastic, female freelancers.
Like me, Jennifer supports small business. Jennifer provides admin services to individuals and businesses to help release time to focus on tasks that they enjoy doing and contribute to the success and growth of their business and/or personal life.
1. Tell us a bit about your journey to freelance life and what inspired you to set up Platinum Virtual Assistant, supporting small businesses?
Various events in my life at the time really brought it home to me that life is short and it is essential to enjoy the journey. I wasn’t ‘unhappy’ with my life, but I realised after more than 10 years working for the NHS that I was stuck in a rut of day to day getting through….that’s not enough for fulfilment and long term happiness. My wise husband reminded me “If you do what you always do, you will get what you’ve always got”. It was time to take control – time to make a change.
My parents and in-laws had both run their own businesses, my husband has also set up his own company. What was I so scared of? The answer was fear – fear of the unknown.
I threw some ideas around with my husband and a dear friend. Both commented on my organisational skills and with an extensive background in admin, management PA work, data analysis and project management. I wanted to use these skills to help small businesses flourish. We looked at numbers and forecasts, did some research and decided this was a goer!
I saw that the harder I worked, the bigger the results and satisfaction could be. I realise that I haven’t necessarily chosen the easy path. There are ups and downs. I still have much to learn, but I’ve been enjoying the journey and looking forward to what the next year brings as my small business grows.
2. What do you love about supporting small businesses?
With small businesses I find that I can make a bigger impact. When I started my business, I planned to offer ‘admin services’. As time has passed and I build relationships with my clients, I realise that the focus has changed a little, and as part of the ‘admin support’ I often become a confidante, helping with planning, strategy and project management. I get to see how the work I do helps drive small businesses forward and seeing the changes month to month is truly wonderful to watch.
2020 in particular has been a year where many businesses have been thrown into turmoil. One client in particular faced closure as the business model relied on face to face interactions in big groups. She has totally turned the situation around, taken her business online and has found that business has massively increased to heights never previously seen. Being part of this has been so rewarding, strengthening and character building. I feel lucky and privileged to be part of her success.
3. What’s the biggest challenge about supporting small businesses?
I have noticed that having a PA is sometimes seen as luxury, particularly where business owners have been doing all of the admin themselves. The problem with this is that there are only so many hours in the day and there will always be a cap on the capacity of an individual.
By getting an expert in, this can save on time and costs with the tasks completed in a fraction of the time.
This allows business owners to grow their business and focus on the important things such as generating more revenue.
4. What do you think is the most important/useful question people should ask you and how would you answer it?
“Why should I hire a Virtual Assistant rather than an employee?”
One of the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant is that I can become part of your team without you having to pay the overheads associated with employment. E.g. Employers National Insurance and Pension costs. In addition I work remotely in my own office, using my own equipment.
Another benefit is flexibility. Rather than having to pay a fixed salary irrespective of work carried out, I can provide as little or as much support as you require, when you need it most.
5. If you were to give people one top tip, to do or look out for in the future, what would it be?
“Stay organised with a clear head by making lists”
If you get things out of your head and safely onto a record you can give yourself space to focus on the tasks you need to do whilst not fearing that you will forget anything – you can keep on top of things and stay in control. It can also help you see a clear pathway of priorities and what can be delegated to others (even if that is delegating the washing up!)